Faux Sourdough and my first poolish.

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.

– Robert Browning

Sliced sourdough

It is amazing what one little extra step can do. Something as simple as making a starter/sponge/poolish can do so much for the taste of bread. I made a faux sourdough the other day. Faux, since I didn’t use a real sourdough starter. I am trying master basic bread making, so trying to catch wild yeast and culture a real starter was a bit much for me. So, at 10PM I made the poolish by combining packaged yeast (1.5t), flour (1.5 cups), and water (1 cup), and let that sit overnight (about 9 hours). Here is the before and after:

Baby Poolish Poolish - morning after

I was happy to find the next morning that the poolish looked and smelled like it had ‘potential’. (Actually I woke up at 3AM and checked on it, and it looked pretty good already. Not too much had changed between 3AM and 7AM.) I then added the rest of the flour (less than 2 cups), buttermilk (2T), and salt (1.5t), and kneaded about 10 minutes. I used buttermilk (that I made from milk and vinegar) because I thought this would add to the tangy flavor of the bread. (I’m not sure if it did but I’d probably have to try just water the next time to see what that does.) I let the dough rise at room temperature for 90 minutes:

Baby dough After 90 minutes

I punched down the dough and kneaded it very briefly, then shaped my loaf, and let it rise, covered, for another 90 minutes.

Shaped Loaf

Just before I put it into a preheated 425F oven (I tried the ice cubes for steam, didn’t work >.<), I dusted the loaf with flour nad sliced it twice (rather slowly, too slowly. I have to work on my slicing.). After baking for about 10 minutes I lowered the temperature to around 375F and baked for another 10 minutes until I tapped the bottom and it sounded hollow. Finished product, just in time for lunch:

Sliced

It tasted like a mild sourdough, which is fine as I don’t like my sourdough too sour. The crust was hard and chewy but not as crispy as I had hoped. The bread was well recieved by all, and comments included “tastes like something store bought”. I would have liked more airy holes and a crispier crust. Lesson learned:

Bag of flour, dry yeast, some milk – under 10 bucks.

The entire process from making the poolish – 15 hours (about 13 of those involved passive waiting).

A baguette from the store – 2 dollars.

Baking your own bread and eating it – priceless. It was worth every minute.

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